Ethical fashion or sustainable fashion has been rising in awareness and popularity, and different people define it differently according to their ethical beliefs.
But we are going to keep it simple and define “Ethical Fashion” in simple words.
Ethical Fashion or sustainable fashion is simply fashion that is focused on reducing negative impact on people, animals and the planet. It is used to define companies that operate with sustainable processes. This industry shows concern for the people involved in production every step of the way: from seed to garment.
Also, ethical fashion considers the impact of using materials, such as cotton, linen, polyester, denim, and others to make clothing. Each of these materials have an impact on the environment, and ethical fashion considers using materials with lesser impact.
However, ethical fashion is thought to be the opposite of fast fashion or unethical fashion. Essentially unethical fashion is the speedy production of cheap clothing, usually of poor quality.
The low cost of production of these garments causes a rise in mistreatment and exploitation of the garment workers. More so, fast fashion or unethical fashion is extremely detrimental to our environment, being one of the most polluting on the planet.
Whenever a lot of people hear the word “Unethical fashion,” they tend to think of sweatshop factories, slaves, and child labour they’ve seen glimpses of on the news. So, you’re likely to get a raised eyebrow or blank stare when you say these two words to someone, you’re meeting for the first time.
Mistreatment of garment workers have now become very common in this trillion-dollar industry.
On the 24th of April 2013, the Rana Plaza Tragedy, which occurred in Bangladesh, occurred as a result of cracks in the building, which was ignored by the owner of the building even after many warnings. The structure that contained clothing factories and other businesses collapsed, and this resulted in the death of 1,134 people.
One garment worker in Los Angeles named Mercedes Cortez reported an average wage of only $4.66 an hour, a vermin-infested work environment.
Female garment workers for H&M and Gap also gave details of the gender-based violence they endured from supervisors who forced them to meet stringent production deadlines.
Furthermore, most sweatshop workers and cotton farmers endure long-term exposure to lead-based dyes, pesticides, and poisoning from chemicals.
Also, unethical fashion industries release gallons of toxic pesticides into water bodies during cotton farming. Animals are also abused in two ways:
- Objectification for their skin, furs, or hides
- Pollution of their habitat and disruption of their food chain.
All these tragic events and inhumane treatment of workers and animals serves as a cruel reminder of how important ethical fashion is.
Although there are some companies practicing ethical fashion by assessing how every process in the supply chain impacts garment workers, there are still some practicing unethical fashion. Ethical fashion is eco-friendly and concerns human rights while unethical fashion is not eco-friendly and works only for the sake of profit.
Importance of Ethical Fashion
Ethical fashion is important, because it’s our social and environmental responsibility. In ethical fashion, there should be clear standards and ethical norms in the garment manufacturing process. It must include transparency, security and trust.
• Workers receive fair wages
• Workers’ and consumers’ opinions are valued.
• Workers are genuinely happy and comfortable with the jobs and customers with the products and services.
There are many ethical fashion companies that practice fair trade and sustainable manufacturing without any form of exploitation.
A good example is Holi Boli, a clothing manufacturer in India. This fashion label is popular for bringing empowerment to those they employ. They hold sustainability at every step of production, from the raw material to the final product stage. Holi Boli uses BCI cotton, GOT certified organic cotton, denim that is made without acid washing, and natural fabrics like linen.
Another good ethical clothing company is Outland Denim. They not only make stylish, high-quality jeans, but also tackle any industry exploiting workers sexually. This company uses their business to empower rehabilitated girls who have a strong passion for sewing.
Ethical Fashion starts with you! Always focus on the actual impact of brands on human, social, environmental and animal values.